The money gets spent. According to Bob Biersack of the Federal Election Commission, most campaigns use funds at the time of suspension to wind down a campaign and pay bills and debts.
After all accounts are balanced, if there is any surplus funds that remain, they can only do the following:
- Contribute up to $2000 to another candidate per election
- Donate an unlimited amount to charity
- Donate an unlimited amount to a political party
- If the campaign converts into a PAC, it can contribute $5000 to another candidate per election (this is rare, because there are rules that apply to the establishment of PACs that don’t typically apply to campaigns).
Candidates and campaigns are forbidden from using surplus funds for personal expenses and expenditures, thanks to the 1989 Ethics Reform Act.